New Orleans Saints Week 3 recap: Everything we know

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The New Orleans Saints improved to 2-1 by defeating the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on Sunday, which surprised a fair share of analysts and fans around the NFL. That just goes to speak to how much of a roller coaster the Saints’ 2021 season has been so far following their upset loss in Week 2 and statement win in Week 1. Here’s everything we know:

Final score: New Orleans 28, New England 13

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Final

New Orleans

7

7

7

7

28

New England

0

3

3

7

13

Saints' top performers

  • Linebacker Demario Davis deserves the first mention here. He broke up two passes in coverage and created two tackles for loss with stellar play recognition and reaction. There's a lot to be said for leading by example, and the team's defensive captain epitomizes it.

  • Cornerback Marshon Lattimore was stellar in his first game back from hand surgery, intercepting the final pass thrown in the game and leading the Saints defense with 10 tackles (8 solo). He blanketed every receiver the Patriots lined up against him and seems to be hitting his stride at the perfect time.

  • Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson got beat a few times in coverage as the day wore on, but he proved his value as a second-level defender who made an impact against the run and the pass. He's the only player in the game to record a sack, a tackle for loss (well, he had two), and a pass breakup.

  • Defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon is another impact player who made his presence felt. Interestingly, the Saints often shifted him inside against the New England guards to allow Cameron Jordan, Payton Turner, and Carl Granderson to continue logging most of the reps out on the edges. He had a huge sack in the fourth quarter to squander a would-be scoring drive.

  • He only had three catches for 31 yards, but wide receiver Deonte Harris deserves some credit for converting multiple gutsy first downs in targets down the sideline. He's grown a lot in a short time. For context, Harris totaled 24 receiving yards as a rookie in 2019.

Injuries

  • Left tackle Terron Armstead left the game early on with an elbow injury, and was downgraded at halftime after initially being questionable to return. The Saints had the game well in hand at that point, so here's hoping he isn't managing a serious issue. Still, let's wait to see what the injury report says on Wednesday.

  • Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle briefly left the game and entered NFL concussion protocol, but was cleared to return and continued to play snaps deep into the fourth quarter.

  • Defensive back C.J. Gardner-Johnson was shaken up after a collision in run defense but recovered after catching his breath on the sidelines. Like Tuttle, he also returned to play in the second half.

Important game notes

  • The Saints cleaned up their penalty issues from a week ago, drawing just two fouls for 15 yards. That's a big improvement over the 11 flags for 115 penalty yards they were hit with last time. Having six assistant coaches return to practice this week has its benefits. The secondary held itself together while the offensive line avoided costly false starts and holding fouls.

  • Jameis Winston didn't turn the ball over, though he did put it in harm's way a few times. An early-game fastball to tight end Adam Trautman was lucky to fall incomplete in a crowd of Patriots defenders. His ill-advised touchdown pass to Marquez Callaway could have been intercepted. While he exits his third Saints start with seven touchdowns scored against two interceptions (both thrown in one game) and no fumbles lost, I'll say it again: his bad process is leading to good results, which isn't enough for Sean Payton.

  • Alvin Kamara finally had his breakout game, totaling 118 yards from scrimmage. The Saints ran 59 plays on offense and he saw the ball go his way on 28 of them, including 24 of the team's 38 rushing attempts. He was every inch an every-down back.

  • The Patriots averaged just 2.9 yards per carry and had to ask Mac Jones to throw 51 times, compared to 69 combined pass attempts in his first two games. After avoiding any interceptions in those initial two starts, he was charged with three interceptions to the Saints, one of which was returned for a defensive touchdown.

  • As NewOrleans.Football's Nick Underhill observed, rookie draft pick Pete Werner supplanted Zack Baun in the linebacker rotation after his Week 2 struggles. Baun played just 6 snaps while Werner (34) and Kaden Elliss (33) ran next to Demario Davis (70). Baun was a sieve in a full-time role, so it's good the Saints have depth to buy him more time to develop and clean up mistakes.

  • Aldrick Rosas missed two field goals (from 52 and 36 yards) that would have kept this game from feeling as tight down the stretch. He struggled with a cross-field breeze that pushed both tries wide left of the goalposts. We'll know soon whether Wil Lutz is cleared to return from injured reserve now that he's eligible.

What's next?

Clouds pass by the Central Business District (CBD) including the Superdome before Hurricane Ida makes landfall in New Orleans, Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Residents across Louisiana’s coast are taking one last day to prepare for what is being described as a “life-altering” Hurricane Ida. The storm is expected to bring winds as high as 140 mph (225 kph) when it slams ashore. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton)

The Saints will finally return home to New Orleans and prepare for a Week 4 game in the Caesars Superdome against the New York Giants (1-2), who traded punts and turnovers with the Atlanta Falcons for much of the afternoon. It's a very winnable game but they shouldn't be overlooked. We should expect starting center Erik McCoy to return from his calf injury soon -- the team chose not to sideline him on injured reserve for three weeks, and we're now entering the third week he would have missed. Other Saints on injured reserve like Tre'Quan Smith, Ken Crawley, Will Clapp, Nick Vannett, and Wil Lutz are also eligible to return.

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